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Anxious

There is much in the world worthy of causing anxiety right now. This recent spate of gorgeous weather shouldn’t be anxiety-inducing, and yet every 70 degree late October day that slips by somehow makes me fret.

Change is coming, I can feel it in the air. No, I’m not optimistically talking about political change…I literally felt winter’s chill in the air tonight while walking the dog. There is so much to do to prep the farm for winter, and yet so much still that we’re harvesting. It’s an endless sprint that will all of a sudden peter out into a winter by the fire with my feet up (ha!)

We took full advantage of this weather to get a million things done. And yet it seems somehow like we hardly made a dent in the winter checklist – there are still potatoes to dig, tomato stakes to pull, cover crop to sow, hoses to store, beds to clean up, and so much more. All while trying to keep up with fall’s bounty. And what else am I forgetting that my frozen hands will be fumbling with just before dark in a biting Potter Hill winter wind?

Although their end is nigh, the flavor of summer can still be enjoyed by our tomatoes of every shape, size, and color. Plus loads of fall flavors too – not to make you anxious too, but get some before it’s too late!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well so far, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1-2pm and 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Boo!

No, I didn’t jump the gun on Halloween. Boo’s back! Nora aka Nora Lu aka LuLu aka BooBoo aka Boo and Jenni just got back from 2.5 weeks away while Jenni studied (and surely aced) a big test. I’ve enjoyed my Paddy and Daddy time immensely, but it’s good to have the family back together!

On the farm, things couldn’t be much better. The invisible rain shield over Grafton seems to have finally failed, temps are perfect, winds are strong as always up here but not extreme (at least not in the last week, I have a short memoery ha). We’ve been picking some of the biggest greens and roots I have ever seen, and they will only get bigger with the 3″ of gentle, sweet rains this week. As long as we avoid this potential frost they’re warning of tonight (Saturday), we’re golden. I’ve had enough tomatoes to last me till next July, but the MIA peppers and eggplant finally made a comeback once the drought subsided a bit, and they’re now loaded with green peppers that I’ve been patiently waiting to turn. If they make it through tonight, I don’t see another potential frost through the 10 day forecast…which would take us right up to….Halloween!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well so far, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1-2pm and 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Mooooo

Yowza what a storm we had Wednesday! It came at us fast, hit fast, and thankfully left fast. But the cleanup from it was anything but fast. We spent all morning Thursday righting the blown down field heirloom tomatoes. Fortunately we had plenty of experience having had to stand the cherries back up twice now (they actually stayed up thanks to the double extra reinforcements after the last storm), but it still took all morning this time because we had to first remove the bird netting that was keeping the crows at bay. It didn’t help that the tomato plants got so big that they started growing through the netting and were all tangled up in it.

It was quite the effort but we got them standing again, and fortunately they survived the frost scare that night. I would have been doubly-pissed if the frost took them after all that! Regardless, with them standing up again I was able to pick a bazillion tomatoes off of them. I swear off just one plant I picked 6 of those big Gold Medal tomatoes, which all weighed at least a pound each. I’m not sure why mid-October is the height of tomato season up here on the hill, but I’m not complaining!

We also had some damage on the animal front. Both coops got picked up by the wind and thrown 30 feet or so. The coops survived, but they came down on a few chickens. We now have 4 gimpy chickens that I’ll probably have to re-home because of broken toes and legs that were stuck under the coop. Honestly I can’t believe all survived!

Other than that, we just have a few trees down here and there. The farmers market didn’t fare as well. A few vendors lost tents in the last half hour of the last day of the market 🙁 I saw the storm moving in from the top of the hill and alerted everyone I could to get off the common, but it was moving way too fast and not everyone got packed up in time. If it had hit just 30 minutes later, everyone would have already been packing up. But at least there weren’t any injuries.

This week it seems was one step forward, two steps back – the planned compost spreading and greens planting in the tunnel keep getting pushed back till “tomorrow”, though we did finally plant some kale in the tunnel on Friday. It’s certainly later than I would have liked, but fingers crossed we’ll be picking kale from the comfort of the cool, windless tunnel instead of the frigid outdoors with that wicked biting northwest wind around Thanksgiving time!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well so far, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1-2pm and 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Epic

I ❤ this time of year. It seems that our epic monthly rain combined with some weekly watering with the sprinklers is just enough for an epic fall garden. This quintessential fall weather has almost made me forget about the brutal summer. Almost. I tend to not be a grudge holder, mostly for the simple reason that I struggle in the long term memory department. The summer burn has indeed faded, but I’m still working on forgiving and forgetting it.

The most recent storm blew down the fortified cherry tomatoes, again. I considered giving up the cherry tomato ghost, but the forecast looks great, they’re loaded, and the plants are still quite green…so we pounded in some extra double supports and propped them back up. And then proceeded to have another epic cherry tomato harvest and plenty more to come, so I think it was worth the effort.

To be quite honest, everything is pretty prime right now. It’s hard to highlight something at the expense of anything else. That said, we’ve just started picking from a new arugula, radish, and spicy salad mix that is 100% perfect. The massive Gold Medal heirloom tomatoes are ripening like it’s mid-August – I picked 5 off just one plant on Friday! The rainbow carrots are beautiful and massive. The shishito peppers are still going bonkers – they’re the only crop that has thrived no matter the weather this season. And the lettuce! Picture perfect and tastes as good as it looks – order a pound, you won’t regret it. Eggplant has made a comeback, along with the other peppers. The list goes on, but I’ll stop there!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well so far, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1-2pm and 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Well Thanks

Brrrr it was chilly out there at the start of the week! There were definitely patches of frost around, but I didn’t find any damage. Surely some of the summer goodness will be stunted for a little bit (tomatoes especially) but the 10 day forecast looks phenomenal temperature-wise. It’s disorienting having to irrigate at the end of September – usually it’s the opposite problem. The decision to shrink the fall garden to just where I can get water to seems to be more and more of a wise one each dry week that goes by. We’re still getting loads and loads of veggies and the (reduced-size) garden is lush, but it’s thanks to our well and not mother nature.

And…..now it’s summer again. I expected a rebound in temperatures as the frost we had Monday morning was pretty early in the season. The same thing happened last year – a nice early light frost and then not a killing frost till mid-October. We’ll see if we’re so lucky this year. The tomato plants are still green and loaded, so hopefully the heat wakes them back up after the cold shock from earlier in the week. I loved the cooler temps, but it’s hard not to appreciate this last blast of summer. A little water from above would be nice though..and by a little, I mean more than a little…but not all at once….please!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well so far, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1-2pm and 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Screwed

Whew what a week. We ALMOST got everything I wanted to done. Well, ok maybe not even close to almost, but we did accomplish a lot. Most importantly, we righted the cherry tomatoes that got blown down earlier in the week. It wasn’t even that windy, as far as up here on the hill goes, but the plants are massive and were a good foot higher than their 6′ stakes. April hulked up the plants while I screwed in some cross bracing stakes…and also my finger! I re-learned an important farm lesson, though I think it’s probably universally important: don’t be lazy or you’ll get screwed.

First off, all of this could have been avoided if I had just screwed in the cross supports to begin with, instead of just propping them up and planning to come back later to secure them. And yes, I did foresee this happening because one or two stakes had already snapped, but the tension of the whole row was doing a fine job holding them up.

Anyway, back to getting screwed…I was being lazy and not making the “long” walk back up to the barn to get the proper drill bits. The wooden stakes I was using as bracing are pretty old, and they were splitting when I drove the screws into them. Pre-drilling would have saved me a hole in my finger, but instead I tried to screw the split stake together. It worked as intended, but the screw was longer than the stake was wide and it went right into my finger! Fortunately it was the side of my finger and didn’t hit anything bad. It strangely didn’t even bleed or hurt, but it sure was a weird looking wound and I tried not to think too hard about what I was looking at. Fingers crossed no infection because a spiral puncture is NOT easy to clean. Savor those cherry tomatoes this week knowing a little piece of my finger might be in one of those pints (JK!).

There should be plenty of cherries and other summer stuff still this week, although it’s 33 degrees as I type this so availability may change if it drops much more. Looks like we’re all set for the immediate future if everything makes it through this morning. Fingers crossed!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well so far, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1-2pm and 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Save the Farm!

Help y’all, we’re drowning over here…in veggies! Abundance has finally come, a little later than expected, but turns out it was worth the wait. It really snuck up on me – I feel like it was just last week I was bemoaning the drought. Amazing what a little bit of rain now and then can do. I’m not sure which is more impressive – the beauty of the abundance or the amount of veggies.

I’m sure many of you will order the favorites pictured above, and for good reason! But there is much more to explore, especially in the greens department. They all are perfect and abundant right now – chard, kale, perpetual spinach, tokyo bekana, spicy salad mix, arugula, braising mix. I dare y’all to take the greens challenge – order AND eat at least 1 of each this week. You’ll win the respect and gratitude of this farmer. A couple other neglected veggies that should be enjoying their moment in the sun right now: beets and salad turnips, so good!

Beyond gorging yourself on great food this week, another way you can save the farm is by finding me a second in command farm(h)er! I generally try to push the envelope on how late great food can be grown here, but this year, lack of labor is forcing an early wrap-up. Early being relative – Thanksgiving this year instead of February? Not that picking greens in the tunnel in February wasn’t lovely, it was just a lot of work for little reward…which come to think of it, pretty much sums up farming. I miss spending quality time with my girls – I spend lots of time with them for sure, but my mind is always on what’s left on the unending farm to-do list.

When I took over the farm from Jeff 5 years ago, I never envisioned doing all this on my own. Not to take away from any of my hard-working seasonal part-timers – they’ve been great when they’re here. But I think the most anyone put in this season was 25 hours in one week. I’ve logged that many hours by Tuesday most weeks, if not Monday! I figured surely some young, hard-working aspiring farmer would come along like I did with Jeff and earn a piece of the business. Still waiting on that one, so please send them my way when you find that special someone!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well so far, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1-2pm and 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Labor

Labor Day is always a bit paradoxical on the farm. Who scheduled it for the middle of peak harvest season anyway? As much as I’d love to take the day off, there is just way too much abundance to miss a harvest.

Speaking of labor, the last of my three summer employee departures (Owen) happened this week. Owen is the only employee I’ve ever hired who came knowing how to drive tractor (in five years!) – he did help out doing grunt work in the fields, but his greatest help has been taking care of all the mechanical maintenance…which I’m highly deficient in. Last Saturday was Cali’s last day – this was her second summer working for me, and she is already missed! It’s SUCH an advantage to have someone like her come in already knowing the systems and expecting/wanting to work their tail off for the farm. I’ve had a number of new people quit after just a few weeks because they aren’t able to (or don’t want to I should say) handle the physicality of the work. Although I would have preferred her to be in the field harvesting with us because she’s got the quickest bunching hands in Grafton, she commanded the wash station so well that she ended up there most of the time. 

The good news is that April is back with me, though only part-time because she still has a real job. April worked full-time for me my first year running the farm, and has been filling in here and there since, so we have a special farm bond. I’m so tired all the time that words are poorly or half formed most of the time I’m trying to give direction on the farm – doesn’t matter with April! All I have to do is point and grunt and she can read my mind. Cali was close to getting to that level too! With the turnover, there will likely be some slip-ups and things done differently so please bear with us while we transition.

I can usually judge abundance by the number of items to choose from on the website, which stands at 39 as I write this. 40 is the magic number indicating tippy top of the peak harvest, so we’re just about there. Summer and fall peaks seem to have merged as we have just absolutely gorgeous greens coming in at the same time as we finally have loads of tomatoes. This isn’t on the website, but buy 3 cherry tomato pints and get 1 free this week! And then the roots! Rainbow carrots, rainbow beets, rainbow radishes. So much color, so little time to tell y’all all about it – you’ll just have to order and see for yourself. It’s amazing what just a reasonable amount of rain can do for the garden and this farmer’s spirits.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well so far, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1-2pm and 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Refresh

Ahhh, rain. I was hoping for a double meaning with the subject: first and most importantly, don’t forget to refresh the website when you click on this link to order veggies! Don’t ask me why, but if there are any website gurus out there that could set me straight please reach out!

The second meaning was supposed to be an insightful ode to this gloriously refreshing rain, which apparently all of a sudden is a thing again. However, I think I’ve fallen asleep 15-20 times in the writing of just the first paragraph. All of a sudden I’m struggling to keep up with the abundance…as it should be at the end of August.

If you’re looking for this farmer’s recommendations, the fall chard and kale look fantastic, and those beets – wow! The arugula and spicy salad mix are perfect right now and so good paired with apples, goat cheese, red onion and balsamic vinegar. We spent all day Friday putting up the above pictured bird netting for the heirloom tomatoes in the field – if that finally deters the crows, we may be in for a great fall after all. Fingers crossed! Either way we have enough of our amazing rainbow cherry tomatoes for all of Grafton’s humans and crows, so stock up.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well so far, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1-2pm and 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Grudge Match

Yay, rain! Sort of. We got a whopping 0.2″ of rain on Sunday, 0.12 Monday, another 0.2″ on Wednesday and a big at Oer today somehow since it rained north and south of us. 0.5″ down, 5″ to go to catch up to normal! To put that in perspective, we’d need 25 straight days like Sunday to just make it up to average for the last 1.5 months. And then we’d still be behind because it’d be the end of September at that point! I’m really only complaining because I love complaining about the weather, but it’s not enough to keep me from having to water the garden again today. And tomorrow. And the next…makes me wonder how long our well can hold on.

It’s certainly better than nothing, and it came at the perfect time as I’m trying to establish a ton of fall crops right now; loads of lettuce, kale, spinach, chard, radishes, turnips, spicy salad mix, carrots, and beets all went in over the last few days. However, it may be too little too late for most things. I had a very depressing field walk on Tuesday checking out the garden. This is typically the time of abundance, but we’re 5″ of rain below normal and it shows. Not only are the plants thirsty, but so are the animals. Crows in particular in this case. We had the driest summer on record my first year running the farm, and the same thing happened to the tomatoes to a degree. 

But not like this – I’ve picked over 100lbs of pecked tomatoes and about 5lbs of unpecked so far. And they’ve added sweet peppers and eggplant to their victims. Peppers and eggplant – really? My friend said crows hold a grudge and I do remember shooing them away from the recently seeded buckwheat cover crop not long before the pecking started. But ruining 100lbs of tomatoes seems a little bit of an overreaction! If this is a grudge match, I’m getting my tailfeathers kicked.

The same friend suggested a bird bath (can’t beat them, water them?), and feeding them peanuts and cat food. Since I don’t have a bird bath, I put out my extra cow waterer/self-filling tub of water with a nice perch on top and scattered cat food on it as a peace offering to hopefully save our tomato+ harvest. Fingers crossed it works, but they weren’t just pecking this week’s fruit – I’ve never seen solidly green tomatoes pecked before! Highly discouraging after all the work getting these plants ready for harvest (understatement of the year). Since I have no idea how much eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes the crows will leave me, they will be first come first serve on Monday. The good news is there are loads of cherry tomatoes right now, and lots of great veggies. Order link below.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well so far, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1-2pm and 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

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